It is a solemn matter to appoint a Herald to your household, for he will be with you, assuming your need for him continues, forever after. His presence alone can turn a simple sandwich into a solemn banquet. Never take a Herald on a picnic. (The Book of Weird)
I'm an Academic Herald. I'm not a "real" herald; I don't register people's coats of arms (though I can certainly suggest designs for those who might be interested). What I do is study, research, teach, and write about heraldry. And I like to share what I have learned about heraldry, hence this blog. I hope that you'll find it informative, interesting at least occasionally, and worth your time to come back. Got a question? Comments? Feel free to let me know. I'd love to hear from you. You can find my contact information in my Profile.
One of the questions we often get as heralds is what a particular shape or charge means.
Generally, the real answer is, "We don't know."
Other times, however, we do know, and it can be more than one thing.
A recent (February 16, 2017) article posted on Atlas Obscura discusses the fact that, "In Heraldry, Hearts Can Symbolize Everything From Lily Pads to Testicles."
No, really! Eric Grundhauser, the author, uses for his primary examples the "hearts" on the arms of Denmark, and the "inverted hearts" on the arms of the Italian Colleoni family.
Denmark's hearts, above, strewn across the field behind the three lions, are thought to actually represent lily pads, "søblade" ("seeblatter" in German), or "sea leaves."
For the Italian family of Colleoni, however, the "inverted hearts" on their shield represent testicles, "coglioni" in Italian, thus making these canting arms (a coat of arms which is a pun on the surname).
My take on this? Though "sometimes a cigar is just a cigar," sometimes a heart is not just a heart.